In 2018, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon used location data from smartphones to target churchgoers with get-out voice advertisements, according to a new report from ThinkProgress Friday.
"We are sending a message from CatholicVote, not to vote for a specific person," Bannon said. "But for all Catholics to go out and do their duty and they will do something to support President Trump."
The concession came from a scene now removed The edge, a documentary by Alison Klayman about Bannon & # 39; s efforts to mobilize the extreme right during the 2018 mid-term elections. In an interview with Klayman, Bannon says he has worked with the conservative group CatholicVote to retrieve location data obtained from carriers, to target ads to people who had recently been to Roman Catholic churches in Dubuque, Iowa.
"If your phone has ever been in a Catholic church, it's amazing, they have this information," Bannon said. "Literally, they can tell who has been in a Catholic church and how often," Bannon added. "And they triaged it."
When asked how he received the data, Bannon told Klayman: "the telephone companies." He continued: "and the data is selling it."
In recent years it was no secret that advertisers were buying location data from carriers. In 2017 the state of Massachusetts settled with a company called Copley Advertising after it helped anti-abortion groups to use geo-fencing for women who had recently visited Planned Parenthood clinics. In January, motherboard reported that a bounty hunter could pay a few hundred dollars to track a target just a few blocks away from their actual location.
After the motherboard Report surfaced, Congress contacted the Federal Communications Commission with a request for an explanation as to why carriers were able to sell data to brokers without any form of redress. According to Ajit Pai, the agency had been investigating the sale of location data for some time, but the FCC has not yet produced any reports or findings as part of that investigation.